Binary Delights were responsible for the development of the Activ8 website in 2012 to coincide with the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The brief was to create an online portal where users could register to take part and then record their daily activity to gain points and navigate along the route that the Olympic Torch would take, with trivia for each location on the map. The overall goal of the program was to encourage children at primary school age to take part and record at least 60 minutes of activity per day as part of a healthy lifestyle program.

Activ8 was developed further over the subsequent years to coincide with the 2013 World Police & Fire Games, 2014 Scottish Commonwealth Games and finally a new Sport NI programme called 60x60, where the users were encouraged to record their 60 minutes activity each day consecutively for 60 days.

Each program was a slight variation on the previous incarnation, with the functionality in essence to allow the users to record their activity, earn points, navigate around a virtual course on a map and learn trivia. It was extended further to include a competition between local schools, where users could assign their points collected to a primary school of their choice. Then a leaderboard of the schools was made available on the website, only accessible by registered members.

In order to develop this, we chose the Joomla content management system. This was due to a short initial development time to tie in with the opening of the Olympic Games in 2012. Using Joomla allowed me to create user profiles that had different types of users associated with them.

Eg. When registering with the Activ8 site, you could register as a normal user who would be taking part in the challenges, or as a teacher from a primary school. Depending on the type of user account, different options and features were available when logged in. This allowed for the flexibility and features required for the Activ8 program to initially run, and be expanded and developed further over the coming years.

A custom component/plugin for Joomla was created in PHP and connected to the Joomla MySQL database, where custom tables were created to store the data for the different types of activities, the log of the activities themselves, the stages and checkpoints of the virtual map tour and all of this was accessible by Sport NI admin’s from a secure administration area. The technologies used in the backend were PHP, MySQL & Javascript. We integrated Leaflet, the open source map system, into the admin area so it was very easy for the Sport NI admins to plot their virtual routes and add various trivia associated with each checkpoint. The component itself had various parameters and options that Sport NI could set, allowing for the dates of the challenges & stages to automatically start and stop on predetermined dates.

The front end of the website was based around a commercial template that was edited to match the “cartoon” style of the characters from the Activ8 program. Extending the core user component of Joomla allowed for additional security against spam/bot signups. A custom validation method was created to ensure that data from the program was only ever displayed to the users with the correct permissions. Depending on whether it was a normal user or a teacher logged in to the front end, it would display info about the challenge and allow activities to be recorded by users, and in the case of the teachers, they could see how many users were “following” their school, how many points they had been allocated, their position on the leaderboard and edit school contact details. The teachers area was further extended to include PDF downloads that they could supply to their pupils encouraging healthy eating and exercise tips provided by the Food Standards Agency and Sport NI.